Just read a post on a blog that made me mad.

For me it highlights a common problem in ‘how to write betterer’ pieces. It is a classic piece of nonsense dressed up as ‘insight’.

The line that did it was, ‘the difference between an amateur writer and a pro is that pros crave failure’.

We’ve all become used to the idea that failure is a learning experience. If you undertake a task with goals and you fail, you have a chance to look at how you went about it, to see where the failure came from. You can repeat the task (if needed) with the knowledge of what you should do differently to increase the chance of success.

It’s not rocket science. Unless you’re a rocket scientist.

The problem with the ‘pro’s crave failure’ BS is that it implies the failure had a hard set of goals, that the definition for success was understood by all and that the person failing got adequate feedback to be able to analyse their failure.

Writing doesn’t work like that.

Most of the time the response is silence. Which is judged as failure.

An agent doesn’t get back to you, or a publisher, or anyone who you have targeted for accepting your work. The ‘norm’ these days is, ‘if you don’t hear from us in ‘x’ time assume you have not been successful’. No feedback. No chance for analysis. Craving that would be just stupid.

But the myth in writing lingers. ‘It’s great to fail! Learn from it and you’ll be a better person!’

Well duh! Yeah, we all know that. But we need information to analyse to understand, to get better.

We need to set our own goals, to decide what constitutes success and failure for us. We need to be clear about our chances of succeeding in a world where there are so many people trying to compete, to succeed and what we are. We need to understand that there are numerous factors outside our control that determine our success and failure. Understanding all that can make it easier to accept failure and then move on.

But this bullshit about craving failure? Can we stop with that please?

What we crave (and I think that is a stupid word, sounds like a fish) is feedback.

We want to understand where we can increase our chance of success. That’s the information we want. And a lot of that comes back to determining success: how we decide when we have succeeded.

Getting a piece of work to a stage where I’m happy to send it out to people is a win for me.

The next win is getting it accepted by the people I’m targeting. If it’s not quite there yet and it needs work, needs to be changed, I can’t know that unless I’m given some direction as to the changes that are needed.

Fish though… funny.